What Are My Rights and Responsibilities as a Tenant?

Information on tenancy rights and what responsibilities you have when renting from a landlord.

When you rent accommodation from a landlord, you have a number of rights as a tenant and you will have a contract.

You have a number of basis rights when you move into accommodation, regardless of the contract or tenancy agreements you have with your landlord.

What are my rights?

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Your basic rights include:

  • The right to live in a property that’s safe and in a good state.
  • That your landlord should not enter the property without prior notice (this is usually 24 or 48 hours and should be stated in your tenancy agreement), except in an emergency.
  • Receiving your deposit back when your tenancy ends, unless there’s a good reason for the landlord to keep some of it (e.g. if you have damaged the property or not paid your rent). Your deposit can be no more than two months' rent. 
  • Being able to challenge any charges you deem to be excessively high.
  • To not be treated unfairly because of your disability, gender, pregnancy, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation 
  • Not having to pay any additional fees.

Extra rights you have a Private Residential Tenancy (tenancy starting on or after 1 December 2017):

  • Being informed of any rent increases three months in advance.

There is currently a temporary law in place until 31st March 2022 which applies to all eviction notices in Scotland issued on or after 7 April 2020, this means that in most cases landlords must give you at least 6 months' notice to end a tenancy.

There are some cases where a landlord can give 28 days notice to evict, but only under the following circumstances:

  • you have a relevant criminal conviction
  • you have engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour
  • someone that you chose to spend time with in the rented property has a relevant criminal conviction or has engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour
  • you are no longer living at the rented property

For eviction notices issued prior to 7 April 2020, or after 31st March 2022, the law is: 

  • You should be given at least 28 days’ notice of eviction if you have been living in the apartment less than six months, and 84 days’ notice if you have been there longer and you’re not at fault (if you have a private residential tenancy).

Find out more about your rights and get information and advice from the Citizen's Advice Scotland website.

What are my responsibilities?

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As a tenant you have a number of rights, but you also have responsibilities to uphold too. These include:

  • Taking good care of the property (including a garden if you have one)
  • Keeping the property safe by locking doors/windows
  • Paying the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you are in dispute with the landlord.
  • Paying charges as agreed with the landlord in your tenancy agreement, for example, utility bills or council tax.
  • Repairing or paying for any damage that you have caused (and making sure to report bigger repairs that are needed to your landlord)
  • Allowing the landlord access if repairs need to be made (the landlord must give you at least 48 hours in advance if you have a private residential tenancy, unless it's an emergency or they need to assess the work that needs to be done)
  • Informing your landlord in writing if you have other people living with you in the property
  • Making sure the property will be secure and not damaged if you are going to be away (e.g. by locking up properly, and making sure the water pipes don’t freeze and break in winter)

If you don’t fulfil these responsibilities, your landlord has the right to take legal action or even evict you.

If you're struggling to pay your rent it's important to talk to someone about it and get help. Organisations like the Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice and Shelter have lots of useful information. It can also be really useful to chat to your landlord if you're facing financial trouble to see if you can work something out. 

Facing eviction?

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Eviction is complicated, but to put it simply, your landlord has to have reasons and a First-tier Tribunal eviction order before you can be evicted. There are are a number of reasons why you can be evicted - non-payment of rent is one indisputable reason for eviction, as is damaging property or having frequent loud parties. However, no matter what the reason you're being evicted for, there are procedures your landlord must take. For example, landlords must give you a notice to leave, which must state why you are being evicted.

If you are facing eviction or are being threatened with it, the first thing you should do is call the Shelter helpline on 0808 800 4444 (Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm) to get help and advice. You should also check out the Shelter website as they have lots of information about your rights and where you can get extra support. 

Your landlord is not allowed to harass you into leaving by doing things like cutting off your utilities or showing up in your flat unannounced. If this is happening, it is harassment and it’s illegal. Call the police or get advice from Shelter.

If you think you may become homeless, it’s important to talk to your local council as soon as you can, as they can give you support and advice about your options.

What is a tenancy agreement?

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When you move into new accommodation you will have a tenancy agreement which is a contract between you and your landlord. This agreement will give additional rights to both you and your landlord. This can be a written or an oral agreement. Your landlord now has to give you a copy of all of the terms of your tenancy by the end of the date that you move in.Your tenancy agreement can’t take away the rights you have in law – even if the tenancy agreement says something different, the law can override this. 

For more information on tenancy agreements, visit the Advice Guide website.

Want to know more about your rights and responsibilities? This handy guide from Shelter Scotland has a lot of information that can help. 

Find out more about Private Renting by heading to the New Digs Campaign page